Sunday, August 19, 2012

Carlos Pena, Ryan Roberts and Ben Zobrist Key Rays Comeback Win over Angels; Chris Young Powers Arizona over Astros

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 18, 2012

American League

Taking their third straight from the LA Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays strengthend their hold on the top wild card spot with a come-from-behind, 10-8 victory that may have dealt a death blow to the Angels' post-season hopes.

Carlos Pena
Down 8-0 after just three innings, the road-tested Rays used six different pitchers after starter Alex Cobb couldn't get out of the third inning, allowing all eight runs on 12 hits, including home runs by Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

While the bullpen heroes were blanking the Angels over the final 6 1/3 innings, the Rays' regulars were banging out the hits, scoring seven times in the fifth inning, tying the game in the sixth when Ryan Roberts scooted home on a Jose Lobaton sacrifice fly, and winning the game on Carlos Pena's two-run, pinch hit homer in the eighth.

Ryan Roberts
It was Pena's only at-bat of the game, though a most meaningful one, perhaps the biggest hit for Pena and the Rays of the season. Roberts' contribution was significant, scoring twice on a 2-for-4 night. Ben Zobrist keyed the sixth inning rally with his only hit in five at-bats, a bases-loaded double that sent all three runners home.

Ben Zobrist
A true team effort, nine different Rays scored for the Rays. Roberts was the only player to touch home plate twice.

The Rays have won three straight and eight of their last ten to take the wild card lead by a game over the Orioles and 1 1/2 over the A's, both of which were winners on Saturday. Tampa Bay and Baltimore each picked up a game on the East division leading Yankees, who fell to Boston, 4-1. New York leads the Rays by five and the O's by six games.

The Angels and Rays wrap up their series at 3:35 pm EDT on Sunday with the Rays seeking a four-game sweep. The Angels have fallen eight games behind Texas in the West and 4 1/2 behind the Rays in the wild card, wiht the O's, A's and Tigers ahead of them.

National League

Chris Young singled twice, doubled and socked his 13th home run of the season, driving in three runs with a 4-for-5 effort with two runs scored to lead the Diamondbacks to their third straight win, a 12-4 romp over the hosting Astros that included a nine-run fifth inning.

Chris Young
Houston was leading, 3-1, after four innings until Arizona sent nine men to the plate in the fateful fifth that featured three walks an error and was capped by Aaron Hill's three run homer. Hill had walked and scored earlier in the inning.

Arizona remained five games back in the NL West as the Giants and Dodgers both won on Saturday. San Francisco leads LA by a slim 1/2 game.

The West appears to be an all-or-nothing division, especially for Arizona, with three team vying for the title with little hope of the second place team earning the second wild card slot. Atlanta leads the wild card card chase with the Pirates four games back in the second spot. LA is 1/2 game behind Pittsburgh, the Cardinals another 1/2 game behind LA and the Diamondbacks four games behind St. Louis.

Arizona will be seeking a sweep of the Astros Sunday at 2:25 pm EDT. Following Houston's 82nd loss of the season against just 39 wins - easily the worst record in the majors - the Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham.

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